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Expats in Jeddah: Visas and Permits

Are you planning on moving to Jeddah? As Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a secular tourism industry, you may not know very much about the gateway to the Holy Cities. The InterNations Expat Guide provides an overview of what relocating to Jeddah entails. We introduce the city, visa options, and housing.
Before you move to Jeddah, prepare your visa application thoroughly!

Visa Categories for Saudi Arabia

Since Saudi Arabia does not issue visas to leisure tourists from abroad, there is no such thing as a visa category for purely social visits. If you would like to go on a fact-finding trip to Jeddah before moving there, you might combine this with business travel.

Saudi Embassies and Consulates offer the following main visa categories:

  • Business Visa (aka Commercial Visa or Work Visit Visa)
  • Diplomatic and Official Visa
  • Employment Visa
  • Family Visit /Personal Visit (for short-term stays)
  • Government Visit
  • Pilgrimage Visa (for hajj and umrah)
  • Residence Visa
  • Student Visa

Employment Visa

Expats moving to Jeddah to take up paid work obviously need an Employment Visa to legally enter Saudi Arabia. Basic requirements for the visa application include:

  • passport (valid at least for the duration of the job contract) with two or more blank visa pages
  • several recent passport photographs (full-face shot, color, white background)
  • complete application form
  • reference note with number and date of your work permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • original sponsor letter (certified by the Saudi Chamber of Commerce and the MoFA)
  • certified and notarized copy of university diploma / professional qualifications
  • copy of signed employment contract (both in Arabic and English)
  • three copies of a recent medical report (issued within the last three months) and several passport photographs
  • police report / certificate of good conduct (issued within the last six months)
  • proof of payment for visa fee
  • online visa request number (available via EnjazIT)

These requirements may vary slightly depending on your country of origin. Sometimes, you need to enclose additional documents, such as a copy of your flight reservation, or attach a different number of photographs, etc. Therefore you should always contact your local Saudi Embassy or Consulate.

Residence Visa

The requirements for a residency visa are the same as an employment visa but, be aware, a residency visa does not give you permission to work.

These requirements may vary slightly depending on your country of origin. Sometimes, you need to enclose additional documents, such as a copy of your flight reservation, or attach a different number of photographs, etc. Therefore you should always contact your local Saudi Embassy or Consulate.

Local Residence Permit

Once you have arrived in Jeddah, you need to acquire your residence permit (iqama) as soon as possible. In most cases, the employer’s HR office takes care of applying for your iqama and those of your family members. Nevertheless, it may come in handy to know how the application process in general works.

To get an iqama, expats usually need the following documents:

  • valid passport
  • valid entry visa issued in their country of origin
  • complete application form (signed and stamped by the employer or signed by the guardian)
  • several recent passport photographs
  • copy of employer’s civil ID
  • proof of payment for application fee (to be paid at selected local banks)
  • medical report for expats with specific jobs (e.g. chef, maid, driver)

The iqama also serves as your official ID as long as you are living in Jeddah. If it is damaged, stolen, or lost, please notify the local authorities within 24 hours and apply for a replacement.

Foreign residents of Jeddah are required to have their iqama with them at all times. It is very important to carry a valid ID at all times. Otherwise, you might incur fines for your failure to show the iqama to the police or other officials.

Do make sure that you know when your ID should be renewed. The period of validity may be indicated on the card in Arabic numbers. Have the date translated for you if necessary.

Contact Details

Iqama cards are issued by the General Directorate of Passports, a department of the Saudi Ministry of Interior.

  • The directorate’s general telephone number for interior calls is +966 (0) 011-477 1100-01.
  • The department for the Makkah region (where Jeddah is located) has the number +966 (0) 02-6315858.

General enquiries can be sent via e-mail to info@gdp.gov.sa.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Javier Vazquez

"I met some great Mexican people to spend my after-work hours with, so I immediately felt at home here in Jeddah."

Ava Sneijders

"InterNations is a very good mix of professional setting and casual atmosphere. Expats on InterNations have and share a global mindset."

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